I have never read Jane Eyre.
I know, I know. Put your pitchforks down….
How can I possibly rate a Jane Eyre retelling without having read the original source material? Well, I am going to rely on my very light JE knowledge from the multiple adaptations that I have viewed. My favorite being the one with Mia Wasikowska – I mean, that girl can act, am I right?
Anyway, moving on…this book, Brightly Burning, is a standalone YA science fiction story that retells the story of Jane Eyre but in SPACE. Quite frankly, that is what sold me. I will literally read anything if you tell me it is ‘set in space’. In this version, our Jane is played by Stella Ainsley. She is an engineer and part-time teacher on a decrepit spaceship called the Stalwart. Stella longs for a different life, one that will take her far away from the failing Stalwart. She begins applying for jobs on other ships; the only real way you can transfer among ships in this fleet that are basically assigned based on social class. To her complete surprise she ends up being offered a position as a governess aboard a private ship called…wait for it…the Rochester.
It doesn’t take long after Stella boards the Rochester before she begins to suspect that something sinister may be going on aboard this ship. Strange occurrences, things going bump in the night, inexplicable laughter in the halls…you get the gist. As Stella grows closer to the other people aboard the Rochester, most importantly, the Captain, Hugo Fairfax (also the owner of the ship), she begins to piece together the strange history of the ship and the Fairfax family. Along the way Stella and Hugo’s relationship begins to go way past employer and employee…sparks fly, etc., etc.
That is all I will say on the plot as I don’t want to reveal too much. There were many connections to the original Jane Eyre story – I feel in a way that payed a nice homage to the original text without being ‘copycat’ in its styling. I really loved the setting and I think any YA science-fiction fan could appreciate it. I thought the ships and fleet in general were well constructed. For me the pace of the story was great. I was never bored and I really liked Stella. I understand from reading other reviews that not everyone was a fan of Stella, but for me, I really liked her. I felt I could relate to her – I mean, she is a major book nerd and isn’t one to cow to what society may expect of her; I felt I understood her motivations.
That last maybe 20% felt a little rushed to me and a bit of the science on that end didn’t make sense – it wouldn’t have been possible for the events to occur as quickly as they did but it is a fictional story so I’m not going to go too crazy about that. It definitely didn’t effect my rating at all, I just had a good giggle about it. I can’t really go into what I mean because it would completely spoil the end. I was really happy with it though when I finished. I think it came to a nice conclusion and was a good way to end a standalone novel. I would definitely read more books by Alexa Donne and look forward to seeing what she comes up with next!
Original: I’m very happy with this but it is late and I must sleep. Full review to come…stay tuned!